It seems that the Kings of Leon have grown up a little since their first couple of albums. Maybe they woke up one day to hear the Verve's "The Drugs Don't Work" and thought "you're right, they don't." Perhaps they thought about the mess they were in, went to rehab, had a shave and a haircut and hopefully a bath, before they tumbled into the studio to produce this: "Because of the Times".
But let's not be deluded over "Fans", praised as their best song - it's not. Far from it. I'm not a fan of "Fans" at all, I think it's perhaps one of their dirgiest, plodding songs. No, it's "Charmer" that has me under their spell - there's something quite appealing about Caleb Followhill screaming over a bassline that sets the rhythm to your heart. Yes, really.
You probably wouldn't find me saying this a couple of years ago when I laughed collectively with friends over the fact that Kings of Leon looked like a bunch of seventies throwbacks and sung... okay, they didn't sing. They mumbled. Constantly - so bad was the mumbling that we mimicked them with mutterings that went along with the tunes and then slapped in a couple of words. This was usually to "Molly's Chambers" because we could actually fit the words "Molly's chambers" into the song unlike many of their other efforts. They then started to grow on me a little more by the time I heard "The Bucket" but still couldn't take them seriously enough.
So imagine my surprise when last year they came back with an eerie synth on the opening of "On Call" and lyrics that could be both heard and understood by human ears. It would have been a miracle if it wasn't for Caleb's dodgy haircut. Of course, I was finally won over by their performance at Glastonbury. Good old Glasto, always turning me on to new bands (okay, that's not true but hey... you can't help but try!) "On Call" and "Charmer" are probably the best songs on the album but then other tracks like "McFearless" grow on you like a good rash. The thing is, once you've heard this album once you sort of want to listen to it again and again because it's so infectious.
I think that's what makes this album so much more appealing than other Kings of Leon efforts - you don't feel completely alienated by their boyish lyrics like on "Aha Shake Heartbreak" and "Youth and Young Manhood". Instead, there's something more tender lurking underneath there but without losing their rock credibility. They may be more mainstream now but that's not always been a bad thing.
What I'm Listening to Right Now: "Getting Scared" by Imogen Heap